Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Pursuits of Happiness
Happy Independence Day (week) everyone! We hope you all had a relaxing, safe and fun weekend. It’s summer bar journal time here at the VBA—just sending the finishing touches off to the publisher. What do Independence Day and our summer journal have in common? Read on!
Of course we know that the Declaration of Independence bestowed upon us unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pursuit, yes, but certainly not happiness itself, as if the elusive state of happiness could be guaranteed. As worded, the pursuit of happiness, singularly, seems to imply a never-ending quest, the right to constantly strive to achieve the unattainable goal of happiness.
The word “pursuit” can mean quest, objective or search, but it also has synonyms such as hobby, recreation, pastime or vocation. Perhaps our founding fathers just meant we can do what makes us happy, within certain well-defined and carefully laid-out legal and ethical parameters, of course! Most lawyers I know chose the field of law and enjoy practicing law because it simultaneously provides intellectual and altruistic satisfaction. Above all, lawyers use their intellect and their training to help people with complex matters. Helping people in this fashion stimulates the mind and the heart.
It goes without saying that practicing law is extremely stressful, however. Often, people’s lives, rights and livelihoods are at stake, ensuring that all good lawyers are in a constant state of fear over making even the slightest mistake. But this noble yet taxing ‘day-job’ club is not all that defines us. Most of us engage in some kind of non-legal ‘pursuits of happiness’ to maintain sanity and a sense of peace. Like so many Vermont lawyers who live here for the scenery bonus rather than a high level of financial reward, a good number of us hike, kayak, ski, garden or run, all of which helps to foster joy. Some even take it to the next level. Our membership is brimming with lawyers who have fascinating artistic, literary, philanthropic and athletic pursuits --and they’ve got mad skills!